Diane Shortland

Freelance Writer

Background

Having suffered from ME for 15 years, many of which were bed-bound and most of which were housebound, I feel I am in a position to truly write about what it is like to have the illness. My first-hand personal experience of the illness has meant I have worked with a range of health professionals, including Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Social Workers and Consultants, providing in-depth knowledge of the subject matter. Being a sufferer myself, I have the gift of true empathy and a passionate interest in the issues surrounding ME. In writing about ME, I feel personal experience is the greatest qualification of all. I have a Psychology background which has aided my writing by equipping me with the skill and experience of studying behaviour.

In 2004, I began writing a column for the Association of Young People with ME (AYME)’s charity magazine for the over 25s. My column ‘Laughter Therapy’ ran bi-monthly for five years until I decided to kick start my writing career by studying journalism and professional writing at Masters level. My column was commended by the CEO of AYME, included in handouts to student nurses attending lectures on ME, and added as links to websites run by sufferers. I frequently received praise from sufferers themselves who found my prose and its approachable style invaluable in educating those around them to understand the trials their illness puts them through.

On reading through these columns last year – that spanned over 20 topics – I began to think about writing a memoir. Taking these stories and anecdotes I began to contemplate my life during the decade of my ill health. As I put pen to paper I realised that a powerful story was there that needed to be written. A story that I believe will give great insight into ME but also have universal appeal as a tale of overcoming adversity.